Let’s face it: Junk food is everywhere. From vending machines to airports to convenience stores, you can find an enticing selection of chemically processed packaged products wherever you look. We all may love a good bag of Cool Ranch Doritos or Hostess cupcakes, but most of those snacks are made with tons of crap. *Have you peeked at the lists of ingredients?*
Instead of fighting the urge to hit B4 on a vending machine or needing to run far away from your grocer’s cookie aisle, opt for copycat recipes that are just as tasty but without all the additives. From homemade strawberry Pop-Tarts to vegan Ding Dongs, your lunchbox is about to get an epic revamp without hurting your healthy strides.
1. Gluten-Free Rainbow Twinkies
Twinkies were a lunchbox classic back in the day. And while sometimes we like to get back to our roots by enjoying an old treat, these sweet sponge cakes are riddled with a laundry list of processed additives. But this recipe gives the golden treat a healthy makeover so you don’t have to give up the habit. Its cake is made with simple ingredients like honey, unsweetened applesauce, Greek yogurt, vanilla almond milk, eggs, and vanilla. As for the creamy filling, it’s made with only Greek yogurt and light strawberry cream cheese. Don’t forget the rainbow sprinkles to keep these festive.
2. Paleo Strawberry Pop Tarts
Pop-Tarts are basically frosted cookies with a sweet filling that we somehow got away with snacking on for breakfast. As adults, we know we should skip the sugary rectangles. But instead of living a Pop-Tart-free life, let’s make a baked pastry at home with healthier ingredients. This Paleo and gluten-free version calls for a crust made of almond flour, tapioca flour, maple sugar, butter, an egg, and a homemade chia seed jam filling. As for the glaze, you’ll need cashew or almond milk and vanilla extract and powdered sugar.
3. Quinoa Pizza Bites
This pizza appetizer is a close cousin to those beloved bite-size pizza bagels—only with way less carbs. Stock up on quinoa, Parmesan, mozzarella, mini pepperonis, and some seasonings and you can make your pizza night in a little bit healthier (no pun intended).
4. Twix Bars
Layered sticks of chocolate, caramel, and biscuits? Yes, please.Gluten-free, vegan, and with only six ingredients, this recipe totally shows up the packaged candy bar original. Be sure to grab coconut oil, coconut flour, maple syrup, almond butter, and cocoa powder at the store to get these Twix-like treats on the table.
5. Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups
You never stop wanting fruit roll-ups—you just realize you should probably stop eating that much sugar in one snack. This recipe will bring the roll-up back to your life because it’s basically just pureéd and dehydrated strawberries. If strawberries aren’t your thing, you can swap in pretty much any fruit, like mangos, peaches, or raspberries.
Doritos may be one of a kind, but we can’t enjoy them on a regular basis as health-conscious adults. Though you may never reach the same finger-licking synthetic cheese flavor with anything you make yourself, this recipe comes crazy close to that perfection. Try the blogger’s take on the three popular seasonings: spicy taco, nacho cheese, or cool ranch. You’ll be using simple shelf items like nutritional yeast and tons of spices for that kick of flavor on the corn tortilla base.
7. Gluten-Free Ding Dong
Have a craving for a Ding Dong you can’t quite kick? Opt for a homemade cake recipe instead—with an impressive ganache coating. All you’ll need is butter, eggs, sour cream, oil, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, and Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 gluten-free flour. These treats are loaded with a simple cream filling too.
8. Peanut Butter Cups
Though it’s tempting to reach for that orange Reese’s packaging at the market, make these easy low-carb, low-sugar, vegan, and gluten-free peanut butter cups with only four ingredients: dark chocolate, creamy natural peanut butter, pure maple syrup, and coconut flour. If you’ve got 10 minutes to spare, then you have time to make these.
9. Healthy Dunkaroos Dip
Lunchboxes in the 1990s were nothing without those kangaroo-shaped cookies with sprinkled-filled icing. The good news is you can bring this healthier version to your desk lunch now. All you need to whip up this fun snack is two cans of coconut milk, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and sprinkles. Tip: Be sure to fold in sprinkles without over-mixing or your sprinkles will bleed into the dip, turning it one color.
10. Healthier Oreos
As a kid, you could argue that Oreos were the greatest things ever invented. Dunking a sleeve of the black and white cookies into a big glass of milk will always be iconic, but turning over to the nutrition label is alarming given the main ingredient is just sugar. Instead, this batch of homemade Oreos is made with whole grains, healthy fats, and natural sugars. For the chocolate cookies portion, you’ll need ingredients like wheat flour, unsweetened dark cocoa powder, coconut sugar, organic butter, vanilla extract, and egg. For that creamy inside, pick up coconut butter or vegan cream cheese, organic butter, almond milk, vanilla extract, flour, liquid stevia, powdered xylitol, and almond milk. It’s so worth it, we swear.
11. Low-Carb Cheez-Its
Unfortunately, the big chunk of cheese pictured on the front of Cheez-It boxes is just for show—yup, it ain’t real cheese. Next time the craving hits, snack on this homemade copycat recipe in lieu of a bag. All you need is almond flour, extra sharp cheddar, mozzarella, cream cheese, and an egg. You’ll be baking these low-carb, keto-friendly, and gluten-free crackers right in the oven.
12. Homemade Hostess Cupcake
Another Hostess staple only without the long list of questionable additives. You’ll have to do minimal shopping to achieve this dessert, as you probably have most things on the list in your cabinet: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, egg, sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, milk, and cocoa powder.
13. Vegan Powdered Donuts
These are the same yellow cake donuts covered in powdered sugar—minus all the junk and chemicals. For the heavenly batter, you’ll need flour, vegan butter, vanilla extract, any nondairy milk, and applesauce. Bonus: These donuts achieve a rich, buttery perfection packaged stuff can’t.
14. Homemade Mallomars
Same marshmallow-loaded makeup without the high-fructose corn syrup and vague artificial flavor. These use graham crackers as acrunchy base, homemade vegan marshmallow fluff, and melted chocolate chips as the top layer. When it’s too cold to make s’mores outside, make these instead.
15. Healthier Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies
You can probably recognize these fudge-striped cookies from a mile away. Instead of wondering what’s in those shortbread-like circular treats, whip up an easy, healthier batch at home. We’re totally obsessed with the idea of having orange zest in our cookies that are then drizzled in chocolate. Try it, you’ll like it.